(see Publications under the Works tab)
I specialize in studies of diversity and function of soil and plant-associated microorganisms and their contributions to plant growth. Specifically, I combine field, laboratory bench work and computational analyses to explore how land management practices affect microbe-microbe and plant-microbe interactions in the soil-plant interface and their effects in plant health. I use classic microbiology and plant pathology techniques; high throughput next-generation sequencing and microbiome research; greenhouse and field experiments to assess plant health; and computational analysis required for integrating next generation sequences and field data.
Furthermore, I have experience in teaching, outreach and leadership in diverse academic and research settings. I taught for five years in undergraduate settings, and have mentored several undergraduates, technicians, summer interns and graduate students over the years.
McSpadden Gardener BB, Benítez MS. 2013. US Patent 8,404,475. Isolation of novel bacteria contributing to soilborne disease suppression
Associate Editor, Phytobiomes, APS Journals
Research and Teaching Experience
The Ohio State University – Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Department of Plant Pathology, Assistant Professor in Phytobacteriology August 2017 – to date
North Central Agricultural Research Laboratory (Brookings, South Dakota), Agricultural Research Services, United States Department of Agriculture; Research Biologist / Postdoctoral research associate December 2014 – July 2017
Oklahoma State University, Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Visiting Research Scholar February 2014 – December 2014
Duke University, Nicholas School of the Environment, Postdoctoral associate June 2011 – January 2014
Universidad de las Fuerzas Armadas (ESPE), Life Sciences Department, Assistant Professor of Microbiology October 2008 – June 2011
The Ohio State University, Department of Plant Pathology, Graduate Research Associate September 2004 – August 2008
Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Life Sciences Department. Assistant Professor. September 2002 – July 2004
Oliva R, Koch A, Ayala L, Benítez MS, Garzón CD, Andrade J. 2012. Comparative genomics of Andean
Actinomycetes with high and low suppressive activity against the potato pathogen Phytophthora infestans. The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS). $12390, one year (Grant discontinued).
Koch A, Ayala L, Benítez MS, Molineros J, Garzón CD. 2011. Diversity of Phytophthora infestans populations present in potato field soils. Escuela Politécnica del Ejército. $38000, one year.
Diaz C, Ponce LK, Benítez MS. 2011. Optimization of DNA-extraction from Andean soils for use in microbial community profiling. Escuela Politécnica del Ejército. Seed research grant for undergraduate thesis development. $ 1500, one year.
Morales Z, Ponce LK, Benítez MS. 2011. Management practices effects on antibiotic producing Bacillus populations present in potato fields. Escuela Politécnica del Ejército. Seed research grant for undergraduate thesis development. $1500, one year.
Benítez MS, Ponce LK. 2010. Bacterial diversity in the rhizosphere of managed and native Lupinus spp. across an altitudinal range in the Ecuadorian Andes, with application in biological control of soilborne plant pathogens. Escuela Politécnica del Ejército. $33100, one year.
Benítez MS, Koch A, Molineros J, Forbes G, Garzón CD. 2009. Characterization of disease suppressive soils towards infection of Phytophthora infestans in potato tubers. Escuela Politécnica del Ejército. $20000, one year.
Benítez MS. 2007. Characterization of fungal populations correlated with disease suppression under different organic field management strategies. SEEDS: The OARDC Graduate Research Enhancement Grant Program. $5000, one year.